1. The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy is an independent, non-profit, educational institution. Its primary goal is to promote Constitutional Democracy in Israel. The Foundation has drafted a Constitution for this purpose.
2. The Foundation’s first practical objective is to empower the people by making legislators individually accountable to the voters in regional or multidistrict elections.
3. The Foundation’s constitutional method of analysis reveals how the flaws inherent in Israel’s political and judicial institutions render it virtually impossible to solve Israel’s domestic and international problems. By showing how these flaws may be corrected, the constitutional approach enables us to think constructively and offer people a positive goal.
4. As is widely admitted, Israel has succumbed to the defeatism and territorial contraction of the Oslo “peace process.” Criticism of the “peace process,” however cogent, has become sterile. Contrast the Foundation’s analysis of the policy of “territory for peace.”
- This policy is logically self-destructive because it requires Israel to surrender territory whenever Arabs threaten war. (Notice how Arab terror often triggers more Israeli concessions.)
- The empirical results of this policy indicate that Oslo has so weakened Israel that Muslim/Arab leaders now see an opportunity to destroy the country and are arming for that purpose.
5. Nevertheless, Israeli governments continue to pursue the discredited policy of territorial withdrawal. Why? There are two basic ways of answering this question:
- External factors: American pressure
- Internal factors: Lack of authentic Jewish leadership and the flaws in Israeli institutions.
6. How Israeli politicians react to US pressure depends not only on their own moral character but also on the character of Israel’s System of Governance—a factor ignored by virtually all commentators.
- In Israel, contrary to the practice of 85 countries having democratic elections for the lower (or only) branch of the legislature, the entire country constitutes a single district. Parties therefore compete for Knesset seats on the basis of Proportional Representation; and given an electoral threshold of only 2%, no party has ever won a parliamentary majority. The result is a Government consisting of rival party leaders each with his own agenda. This undermines political stability as well as national unity. The average duration of an Israeli government is less than two years, making it impossible to pursue a coherent, long-term, and resolute national strategy.
- Moreover, since citizens are compelled to vote for a fixed party slate rather than individual candidates, members of the Knesset, especially those who become cabinet ministers, can ignore public opinion with impunity. This is precisely what happened in 2004, when 23 Likud MKs voted for Labor’s “unilateral disengagement” policy—a policy rejected by an overwhelming majority of the voters in that election—which they had campaigned against in the 2003 election.
- The system of voting for party slates instead of individual candidates not only makes MKs subservient to their party leader; it also facilitates foreign manipulation of Israeli politics. Suppose Mr. X is seeking to become his party’s chairman, or, having become such, he is leading his party in a national election based on party slates. If some foreign government or millionaire contributes significantly either to Mr. X.’s winning the chairmanship of his party, or to the campaign chest of his party, that foreign government or millionaire is well-positioned to influence the official conduct of Mr. X’s entire party in the government. To put it bluntly: given party slates, buy a party leader and you pretty much buy his party—something virtually impossible when members of the party are individually elected by the voters in regional or constituency elections.
7. This constitutional analysis sheds light on the following facts:
- A large Jewish majority opposed the policy of “territory for peace” before the 1992 elections, but was ignored by the Rabin Government and its successors.
- Surveys indicate that a large Jewish majority oppose Arab membership in the Knesset, if only because these parties, in violation of Basic Law: The Knesset, negate the Jewish character of the State. Nevertheless, the Knesset (as well as the Supreme Court) blinks at Arab parties that violate this law.
8. To promote democratic accountability, the Foundation advocates:
- Multi-district or constituency elections to establish a direct relationship between citizens and individual representatives, and to enable parliament to fulfill the function of administrative oversight—essential to minimizing waste and corruption.
- A Presidential form of government to replace multi-party cabinet government.
- Presidential nomination of Supreme Court judges with the consent of parliament.
- Extraordinary parliamentary majorities for ratifying agreements with foreign states or entities.
- Enforcement of the Foundations of Law Act 1980, which makes Jewish civil and criminal law “first among equals” vis-à-vis foreign systems of jurisprudence used by the Supreme Court.
- Enforcement of the law barring any party that negates the Jewish character of the State.
- Enforcement of the Citizenship Law which empowers the Attorney-General to revoke the citizenship of any Israeli national who commits an act of disloyalty to the State. (To safeguard freedom of expression, the Foundation has proposed an amendment to this law, namely, to define the term “act” to include membership in, or aiding or abetting, a terrorist organization.)
- A free market economy based on Jewish ethics.
- Professional civilian parole boards to prevent the release of terrorists for political reasons.
- An educational system that cultivates Jewish statesmanship and Jewish national pride.
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Our Journal of Jewish Statesmanship, issued 8-10 times year, interfaces Jewish concepts and political science.